PHNOM PENH, July 2 (Xinhua) -- World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Thursday called for rigorous law enforcement to save Cambodia's endangered freshwater fish from extinction.
The result of a rapid assessment showed that Giant Barb, Isok Barb, Giant Goonch, Mekong Tiger Perch, Elephant-ear Gourami and Mekong Freshwater Stingray are among other 35 fish species that were traded and sold at wet markets in Cambodia, as well as being trafficked into neighboring countries, said a WWF-Cambodia's press statement.
Giant Barb and Isok Barb are classified as critically endangered both globally and in Cambodia, while Giant Goonch, Mekong Tiger Perch, Elephant-ear Gourami are classified as endangered in the kingdom, the statement said.
It said Cambodia's Fisheries Administration and WWF pleaded to all relevant authorities to take urgent law enforcement actions on all illegal fishing and trade in endangered fish along the Mekong River.
It added that the trade in endangered fish species is posing a serious threat to Cambodia's fisheries resources, especially the mega fish species and the Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphins, which are considered as the kingdom's living treasure.
The statement said that following the completion of the rapid assessment, the Fisheries Administration and WWF put forward recommendations necessary to strengthen the implementation of the fisheries law against illegal fishing and fish trade.
"Fishermen, fish buyers and middlemen do not understand much about the fisheries law and relevant legislations on the protection and management of fisheries resources, especially endangered fish species that need our protection from extinction," Eng Cheasan, director general of the Fisheries Administration, said.
"I would like to urge all relevant authorities to increase the awareness raising about the fisheries law and associated legislations in force among the fishing communities and local people living along the Mekong River, as well as engaging their participation in the protection of fisheries resources and encouraging them to diversify their livelihoods activities," he said.
A report on law enforcement by Kratie and Stung Treng Provincial Fisheries Administration Cantonments, river guards and WWF showed an increase of fishing activities using cast nets, gillnets, floating or fixed nets, long-line hooks, electrofishing and fishing with poison in and around conservation zones prohibited by the law.
The report indicated a rise of 38 percent of gillnet use with 39,162 meters confiscated between December 2019 and May 2020, while only 28,435 meters confiscated between December 2018 and May 2019.
In parallel, the use of long-line hooks also saw an increase of 46 percent with 37,040 meters of long-line hooks seized between December 2019 and May 2020, while only 25,437 meters confiscated between December 2018 and May 2019.
"I would like to appeal to authorities at all levels to tighten up their law enforcement efforts and enhance regular monitoring mechanism of activities at the fish markets and trading points, while imposing severe penalties on those who illegally fish in the river sections prohibited by the law as well as those involved in trading endangered and mega fish species in Cambodia," Seng Teak, WWF country director, said. Enditem